18 Jun 2021

Lake Alice abuse: Former patient accuses Dr Selwyn Leeks of rape

8:01 pm on 18 June 2021

Warning: This story contains details of rape and abuse.

A survivor of the Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital has told the Royal Commission she was raped multiple times by the head of the child and adolescent unit, Dr Selwyn Leeks.

Lake Alice Hospital

Lake Alice Hospital Photo: PUBLIC DOMAIN./ Pawful

Sharyn Collis was 14 when sent to the unit in 1973.

She has told the Abuse in Care inquiry that on receiving electric shock treatment by Leeks she was certain she was sexually assaulted by him.

Collis, now 62, said on one occasion waking up after being anaesthetised for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) her top was drawn up and her jeans pulled down.

"He put me back to sleep again and when I woke up for the second time he was gone. I was sore and sticky between my legs. I felt drugged and ready to pass out. I knew that he had raped me."

She said it happened many times.

"He would take me into a side room, get the nurses to tie me down with leather straps and give me a needle of drugs to put me to sleep."

Collis said she continued having the ECT sessions during her stay at Lake Alice between March 1973 and April 1974.

"I knew he was raping me each time we had these sessions because my vagina was swollen and bruised and there would be a sticky discharge when I woke up."

She said she told staff but they said she was lying.

"I kept telling them but they didn't believe me. A nurse told me it was my imagination playing up because of the drugs I was on.

"After the third or fourth time him raping me, I gave up telling anyone."

Collis said the girls in the unit were given the contraceptive pill each morning and made to swallow it.

She said Leeks would always give her the creeps.

"He was sadistic."

She said she was so depressed and tortured in Lake Alice that she would often contemplate suicide.

"The only think that kept me from actually committing suicide in those early dark times was the thought of finally seeing Leeks paying for what he put us all through."

Collis said she made a complaint to police in 2002 and after hearing nothing back, her lawyer made contact with them in 2004, but no complaint was ever found.

"Other staff members also need to be held accountable, not just Leeks. It's about getting justice for what happened to us and our families. Why we were sent there in the first place.

"Very few of us would have actually had mental health issues."

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

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Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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